ALIVE & FIT MAGAZINE Vol.12 Issue 45 SUMMER 2018: Holistic summer health hacks

Summertime is about escaping to the great outdoors. From backyard barbecues to camp side bonfires, it’s time to soak in the sights and sounds while making holistic yet environmentally responsible choices. Serious sounding but it’s more about being mindful of your personal health and wellness with a side of loving nature.

As the weather warms, sunshine chases away wintertime blues. It’s no secret you should have spent winter’s long dark cold days supplementing with Vitamin D. Finally we are losing layers of clothing, exposing skin to beneficial sunshine. Our body is quite capable of producing serotonin or happiness – helping vitamin D by the direct action of sunlight on our skin. The problem is most of us spend way too much time indoors to reap the rewards. Lowering the amount of vitamin D may not be an option as it plays a crucial role as a hormone. Aging directly impacts our ability to make vitamin D. Many medications interfere with its absorption plus darker colored skin requires more vitamin D than fair skin. The big summer take away is sunscreen prevents vitamin D from being produced on the skin. Avoidance is not the answer but waiting a few minutes before slathering your skin will allow nature to do its job. This of course leads to what kind of sun protection is best. Commercial brands are nothing shy of a chemical cocktail. Reapplying layers of toxins to loved ones, is truly troubling. Avoiding skin cancer shouldn’t include applying known hormone disruptors. We seem to have forgotten, skin is our largest organ. What we put on the outside is absorbed, directly impacting the inside. Sunscreens come in either chemical or mineral form. Oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate are six chemicals to avoid at all costs. Most brands contain a combination of between two and six from the list of offenders. Mineral sunscreen with titanium dioxide is not necessarily a natural, healthy choice. There are plenty of companies offering safe and effective alternatives. Environmental Working Group (EWG) provides information on sunscreen products, as well as any available published data. Downloading their “Healthy Living App” is a responsible way to make informed decisions.

For those who believe mother nature offers all the answers, has a great recipe for sunscreen. Shade, SPF clothing, hats, avoiding the sun during peak times and reapplying are other smart tips.

Sadly find yourself sunburnt season after season? Applying the inner gel from aloe vera leaves or soaking in tepid bath water with a cup of apple cider vinegar helps soothe pain, itchiness and reduce inflammation.

Now that you are sunscreen savvy let’s dig in the dirt. Green thumb or not, try adding a hint of fresh this summer by starting a garden. No need for a country estate, city dwellers can reconnect to nature with a simple herb garden. Opt for heritage, non-GMO organic seeds that are chemical and pesticide free. The same goes for mini plants. Help support pollinators by choosing fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers that attract bees and butterflies. Whether you started seedlings indoors or purchased plants, transfer to clay pots with a drainage hole and bottom tray. In an ideal scenario, newly designated garden space faces south. Don’t fret if facing west, as direct sunlight shines brightly from early afternoon onwards. Facing east means continuous sun so herbs are a safe bet. Four fabulous fresh and flavorful herbs is all you need to begin.

MINT can only be described as a refreshing summertime hydration helper. Water, juice or party time mojito receive an anti-inflammatory, digestive calming super boost with this anti-oxidant. Not only is it a sore throat soother, it’s an amazing breath freshener. Mint pairs fabulously with watermelon wedges and crumbled feta in a patio worthy salad.

DILL is nothing shy of delightful. As a top notch anti-inflammatory, dill helps decrease pain in those suffering from arthritis and gout. While adding flavor to any dish, dill helps calm the stomach and nerves. Discovering dill means learning the art of pickling this fall!

LAVENDER is worthy of the best cut crystal vase whether it’s picked fresh or dried. Headaches, stress and insomnia are all addressed with the calming properties of lavender. Whether it’s eye candy, bath time bliss or flavor fun to compliment chocolate and fresh squeezed lemonade, lavender bolsters beauty in every way.

CILANTRO is a powerful anti-oxidant and helps rid the body of heavy metals. It helps settle digestive upset and even anxiety. Cilantro is a natural anti-histamine, helping calm the immune system response against allergens. Combined with a carrier oil such as coconut, it can also be applied topically to soothe many common skin irritations.

From digging in the dirt to the act of earthing, the ultimate goal is to address adrenal fatigue through the simplicity of nature. Earthing is not new but city slickers have become so immersed in their concrete jungles, experts needed to define the necessity of nature. The act of earthing helps connect electrical frequencies of the human body with that of the earth’s. In simple terms, we all need to walk barefoot on the dirt, grass, beach and splash in water. Earthing may be beneficial at lowering cortisol levels, reducing inflammation and chronic pain. No scientific data is needed to highlight how well one sleeps after a day on a beach. Stress simply melts away. Not convinced? Just a click and credit card payment away, modern technology offers the earthing experience from the comfort of your bed nightly with specialty high tech fitted sheets complete with cord.

Easy peasy bug spray

In a spray bottle combine ½ cup apple cider vinegar, ½ cup witch hazel and 30-50 drops of the appropriate essential oils. Fleas and mosquitoes stay away with citronella and eucalyptus while ticks avoid grapefruit, oregano and tyme.

Sunburn and bug bite- free means enjoying nature into the wee hours. Easy breezy sensational salads and fruit infused cocktails while watching the sunset. Bring out the natural beeswax candles. After a few minutes lit, add a few drops of citronella essential oil. Peace, love and happiness enjoying a carcinogen bug free night. Have a happy holistic summer!


Mercedes Kay Gold is Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Certified Personal Trainer living in Toronto. She has been published in various publications. When not in the gym, she can be found blogging all things holistic and spending time with her sons.